Walking around the city centre last week, I stopped and paused for a few moments and felt immensely proud to see how it has developed.
The investment that we have made in areas like Cathedral Square, Bridge Street and Long Causeway have really paid back dividends and the overall atmosphere is now busy, vibrant, and inviting, especially with the Christmas decorations in the evenings.
While other towns and cities are struggling to keep shops open, we have very few empty units and lots of new businesses coming, such as Smiggle and Joules to Queensgate in the new year and many more planned. In just the past few months we’ve seen Metro Bank open its doors and new places to eat and drink including Middletons and Lightbox on Bridge Street.
It’s not an understatement to say that Peterborough really is open for business and this is the reason why it’s so good for Christmas shopping.
As well as being easy to access by car, bike or train, our city now has an excellent range of shops, restaurants and events, such as the Christmas market. All this means that even if you are not a natural shop-o-holic, you can run through your entire Christmas present and food shopping list relatively painlessly.
As many of you will know the Christmas market will open in Cathedral Square on Friday and I for one will be taking advantage of the opportunity to find some hidden gems and to fill up on bratwurst while searching for a present for my wife Barbara.
It’s a difficult task finding something original to buy for the woman you’ve been married to for 53 years. I think my source of original and romantic ideas has finally been exhausted, so if anyone has any inspirational thoughts, please pass them on!
While you’re in the city centre, make sure you take the time to travel to our city market which is open throughout the year and is a great place to wander around.
Don’t forget, the market is open right up until Christmas Eve, so you can pre-order Christmas turkeys, buy wrapping paper and stock up on all your festive fruit and veg while bypassing the supermarket and supporting our local economy.
Sticking with the Christmas theme, I was pleased to attend the annual Teddy Bear Ride Christmas party at The Fleet on Sunday for children who are in the care of the local authority. It was a fantastic event for a great cause.
What impressed me the most is when 50 people on pushbikes zoomed up laden down with teddy bears and presents for the children. It was a lovely moment which really restored my faith in human nature and the smiles on the faces of the children were wonderful.
Finally, I’d like to make you aware of a campaign which launched this week, which everyone should pay attention to, particularly those who have elderly relatives or friends in the city.
Did you know that there are almost 30,000 people aged 65 and over in the city - and a third of those people live alone? These people could be going for days or weeks at a time without meaningful contact with others and the effects of this can be devastating. It’s perhaps not surprising to hear that men in particular can be particularly vulnerable to loneliness, as many would not dream of highlighting their issue for fear of burdening others. I’m pleased to say that the Campaign to End Loneliness was launched in the city on Monday and as the first stage of the campaign, many partner agencies came together to discuss what can be done to help those who are lonely. While there is support for older people in our community, this is the first time that the issue of loneliness has taken centre stage and I hope this is the start of targeted work to help these vulnerable members of our community. I will update you with further news from this campaign in the new year.
Lastly, if you’ve not done so already, remember to pledge your support to our Stand Up For Peterborough campaign.
By doing so you will be able to join us in lobbying Government in a bid to achieve fairer funding for the city. Pledge your support by writing to me, or on our website www.peterborough.gov.uk/standupforpeterborough